Three Minute Thesis Competition

Can you explain the importance of your research in just three minutes?

Suzie Ferry, 2011 University of Sydney winner and Australia--New Zealand runner up, with Alan Dench.

Suzie Ferrie, the 2011 University of Sydney winner and Australia–New Zealand runner up, with Alan Dench, Dean of Graduate Research School, University of Western Australia.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a competition for postgraduate research students to present their research topic to an intelligent, non-specialist audience in an engaging way. You will have just three minutes to present a compelling presentation on your thesis topic and its significance.

It's a great way to practice explaining your research to people who are not familiar with your field – skills that will serve you well when applying for funding or engaging media attention.

It's also a fantastic opportunity to meet other students from across the University, hear about their research, and most importantly, have fun!

How to enter

Your faculty may be running its own heat (contact your faculty to find out!). The winners of the faculty heats will progress straight to the Finals.

But if your faculty doesn't run its own heat, or you would like a second chance, all students can enter the open heats.

Open heats for 2014 will be held:

  • Wednesday 20 August, 4-5pm, New Law School Annexe SR 444
  • Thursday 21 August, 9-10am, New Law School Annexe SR 444
  • Friday 22 August, 1-2pm, New Law School Annexe SR 446

When you register, you can nominate your preferred heat. Your heat will be confirmed by return email. Additional heats may be organised if required.

Winners of faculty and open heats will compete in the Finals at Open Day. The winner of the Finals will represent the University of Sydney at the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis Competition later this year.

How it works

The 2013 Final was held at Sydney University Open Day & Postgraduate Expo on Saturday 31 August 2013.

The winner of the 2013 Final was:

  • Kate McDonell, Engineering and IT

The runners-up were:

  • Kai Lin Ek, Agriculture and Environment
  • Connie Ha, Science

The following people also progressed from their heats to the final:

  • Samantha Solon, Sydney Medical School

  • Darian Naidoo, Agriculture and Environment
  • Kirstine Bell, Science
  • Claudia Dobler, Sydney Medical School
  • Zoltan Szabo, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
  • Xanthe Croot, Science
  • Zechariah Marting, Pharmacy
  • Ella Wheeler, Sydney Business School
  • Annabelle Chan, Engineering and IT
  • Claudia Pitts, Health Sciences (unable to attend the Finals)

How to prepare


The competition winner will be awarded $2500 to travel to the Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis Competition.

There are also two runner-up prizes of $500 each.

All competitors will receive a certificate acknowledging their participation.

Rules – the fine print!

You must be currently enrolled or under examination (as at the day of the University of Sydney finals) in a postgraduate research degree at the University of Sydney. Enrolment can be on a full-time or part-time basis.

Your Three Minute Thesis presentation

  • Only a single static PowerPoint slide can be used during the presentation.
  • No animations, transitions, or embedded dynamic media (such as sound or video, etc) are allowed.
  • No additional props or instruments are allowed.
  • Participants must compete in person.
  • Presentations are limited to a maximum of 3 minutes. Competitors exceeding 3 minutes will be disqualified.

Judging criteria
The adjudicating panel will normally consist of at least three people, who may be members of academic staff, representatives of SUPRA, or external guests. The judges score each presentation out of ten for each of the three following criteria:

  1. Communication style
    Was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  2. Comprehension
    Did the presentation help the audience understand the research? (Consider clarity of communication, the quality of expression, the structure of delivery ie, intro, body and conclusion.)
  3. Engagement
    Did the oration make the judges want to know more?

Scores will be tallied as a judging tool, but the winner shall be based on a panel consensus.